Widecombe History Group Minutes April 2000

A Meeting of the Widecombe and District Local History Group was held at The Church House, Widecombe on Wednesday 5th April 2000 at 7.30 p.m.

Mrs Margaret Steemson was in the chair and 37 people attended. In the absence of our secretary, Wendy Beard stood in and took the minutes and acted as secretary for the evening.

Apologies. Anthony Beard, Pam Clare, Liz Fursdon, Rodney Cruze, Geoffrey Bamsey, Rosamund Whale and Rodney Mortimore.

Please click here for details of the illustrated talk by Ted Birkett-Dixon entitled - Dartmoor Antiquities.

The minutes of the March Meeting were read and signed as correct.


North Hall

Peter Rennells gave an update on his continuing research. He reported on the progress so far in tracing the ‘Fitzralphs’ of North Hall and their connection with the parish. Secretary has written once again to "Time Team" and this time included copies of maps, aerial photographs and information so far gathered by Peter - we await their response! The aerial photograph referred to in the last minutes has been purchased but it is not very informative.

Caroline Belam has written to say that she has asked an associate to look at a book about the Fitzralph family, ‘K. Walsh’s biography’ on Richard Fitzralph, it states that Fitzralph was in fact born in Dundalk. Peter is awaiting a reply from an historian who specialises in Catholic matters, a Mr O’Sullivan in Ireland. A letter from D.R.O. saying they do have ‘Greenwoods Survey and Map of Dartmoor 1827’ (a book Peter wishes to read). A letter from Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts suggesting North Hall was NOT the Town Manor and suggesting it could be Natsworthy or Bagparks, the later being possible, but not Natsworthy as that is a Manor of its own . ‘Website’ communication from ‘Genuki Genealogy’ listing information on Widecombe History,

ref: ‘Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries 35 (1983)’ and an article by Iris Woods on Parish Apprentices.


Nothing to report to date on Widecombe History.

Notice had been received from Geoffrey Bamsey that "The Exeter Police Male Voice Choir will be giving a Concert in Widecombe Church on Thursday 27th April 2000 at 7.30 p.m. tickets £3.50. All proceeds are towards the Church Tower Appeal."


Nothing to report.

Any other business

Ref: March Minutes.

Item 1. The quiz was very successful, the evening was most enjoyable and our team came 2nd out of the thirteen that took part. They were congratulated by the meeting.

2. The meeting endorsed the appointment of Peter Rennells to act as contact secretary to the three organisations that the group has recently affiliated to, namely The Devon Family History Society, The Devon History Society and The Friends of Devon Archives. Peter will also be responsible for the security and allocation of all their correspondence, leaflets and periodicals, and the contacts with members and friends that wish to follow up any connections or enquiries that may result from these contacts.

Peter reported attending a lecture at Exeter held on 14th March, on Devon Manors, led by Ian Mortimer. He obtained information on how to trace manorial history and a list of publications and sources. Example :- Book of Fees 1242, Hundred Roll 1274, Feudal Aid 1285-1428, Enclosure Awards. He has obtained details from "Wooton’s Lands 1800" regarding ‘Leases of North Hall Lands and Mills’.

List of potential speakers from Devon History Society, passed to secretary.

Correspondence from Devon Family History Soc.

Publication "Devon Family Historian" with references in it to local family names:- Daw, Pascoe, Nosworthy, Norsworthy, Weymouth, Smerdon, Foale and Bamsey. Peter is currently dealing with ‘Foales’. Gladys Mann is writing to the Weymouths, Neil Smerdon is writing to Smerdons regarding family connections.

Letter from Devon and Exeter Institute Library confirming availability of two sought after books.

He has visited Torquay Reference Library. They have a Widecombe File in which there is a vast amount of information including a collection of newspaper cuttings relevant to property sales in the Parish, The Hamlyn family tree, and a book "Widecombe Ways" by Penelope Seaman.

3. A letter has been received from Geoffrey Sayer regarding the clappers, giving a quote from his father’s Cator Log, and a suggestion for the wording on the plaque commemorating the gift of the clappers to Widecombe Church.

Quote:- "...June 1935.

OM presented to OMC three bell clappers from the original bells in Widecombe Church. These were picked up by her for five shillings at the Smithey at Widecombe where they had been thrown out as scrap iron. Enquiries from the Rector established almost for certain that these clappers were of a considerable age and were undoubtedly in use on the day of the famous thunderstorm - October 21st 1638 - when the Church was severely damaged by lightening. The bells then in use had only recently, (i.e.1935) been removed for re-casting - hence the clappers."

(N.B. - OM was the family name for Lady Sayer’s Mother. OMC stands for Old Middle Cator, the name of the cottage at that time).

Suggested wording for plaque.

"These ancient bell clappers were in use (are thought to be those in use) when this Church was struck by lightening in 1638. They were returned to the Church in February 2000 by the Sayer family of Cator, having been in their safekeeping since 1935."

Rev Derek Newport told Anthony that the clappers are being mounted onto wood and will soon be on display in the Church.

It was agreed that the group should organise a meeting in the Church on Thursday 4th May at 7.30 p.m. to look at and examine the Bells, their engravings and dates, and the associated mechanisms and the present clappers, and also the newly returned ‘old clappers’. Preb Rev John Scott of Totnes has agreed to be guest speaker, he is an authority on the history of ‘Devon Bells’.

Admission to be £2.00 - all proceeds towards "The Tower Appeal".

See The Bells.

4. Nothing further to report.

5. Millennium satellite aerial photographs:- Look into http://www.getmapping.com

6. Flower Festival - progressing

7. Speakers 2001 - progressing but would still appreciate ideas and suggestions.

Beating the Bounds

Peter Hirst gave a comprehensive and detailed report on the progress so far undertaken with regards to this project.

A letter has been written to all property owners with land adjacent to the boundary and we have received favourable responses form most.

This has to be a social event not an athletic competition. We will follow as close to the boundary as is practical. We will also pick the easiest walking route to suit all ages and physical abilities.

The school project is getting quite detailed and comprehensive, looking at geology, archaeology, flora and fauna, as well as the physical boundary and marker stones.

We start at Newbridge on the first Saturday in May (6th May) and walk to Holwell Moor Gate (Beech Corner), approximately 8 miles. The following Tuesday and Thursday we will half the walk breaking at Pudsham Moor Gate near Scobitor. Your food will be transported around ahead of the walkers by Sylvia Needham, this will save carrying too much. A request was made for members to write up their own descriptions and take photographs of the event, and this will, when all put together, hopefully produce a comprehensive record of the exercise.

Any further donations towards the costs of cups and maps would be appreciated.


Roger Claxton reported on an approach by Westcountry Television to make a news item from our website and our research into the Parish Documents, Apprentice Indentures etc. It was felt that no names of those on the documents should be disclosed. It was agreed that we take part in this programme. Transcribing the above ready for the database is still continuing.

Our local Postman, Mike Leaman, who recently rode a ‘bike’ across the Himalayas, to raise money for ‘Mencap’, a charity for the mentally handicapped, will give a slide show on Thursday 6th April at Widecombe at 7.30 p.m. all invited.

Friends of Widecombe County Primary School are looking for recipes, tried and tested, to compile and publish a book containing them, to raise funds for the school.

Joan and Les Hambleton have sent a lovely old school photograph, could we name all the people in the photo and name their father’s occupations.

Jenny Pascoe has also received a letter from a Mr Neil Sturk, from St Buryan, near Penzance and he is looking for a lady reputed to have come to Widecombe in c1950. She was originally Annie Hilda Hughes then remarried, he does not know of her new married name. This was immediately passed to Peter Rennells for consideration.

Roger Claxton has received an E-mail from America enquiring about "Will Young", believed to be a retired policeman from London. He set up a business making ‘Uncle Tom Cobley’ figures and sold them in a gift shop at Widecombe. She had bought two of them in the early 1970’s and wondered if they were collectables and if any more were available. Roger will ‘mail’ back that he died in c1995, there are a few still available from Douglas Middleweek at The Smithey, Widecombe. They are collectable and some collections do come on the market.

Grants and Financial Aid

Secretary has applied to "Small Grants for All" and had the forms returned for further details. These have been supplied and the application is now being considered. We may not hear until June!

Refreshment Rota

May Vivien Layfield and Wendy Cruze.

Next Meetings

Wednesday May 3rd - Speaker Brian Byng - Dartmoor Megalyths and Moonlight.

Meet in The Church House, Widecombe at 7.30 p.m.

Thursday May 4th - Speaker Preb. John Scott - Widecombe Bells -

Meet in Widecombe Church, Widecombe at 7.30 p.m.

Saturday 6th May - first day of the Beating the Bounds -

Meet at Newbridge 10.00 a.m. walk via Pudsham Moor Gate to Holwell Moor Gate

Tuesday 9th May - first miniwalk - Newbridge - Pudsham Moor Gate

Meet at Newbridge 10.30 a.m.

Thursday 11th May - second miniwalk - Pudsham Moor Gate - Holwell Moor Gate

Meet at Pudsham Moor Gate 10.30 a.m.

See Parish Link for full Beating the Bounds Programme

Wednesday May 17th - Brian Byng - Guided Walk around Merrivale Stone Rows -

Meet at Four Winds (Old Foggingtor School) Carpark SX561 749 at 7.30 p.m.

On an amusing note the Chairman had brought to the meeting, a small china boot with a flower arrangement in it. As the meeting concluded she stated that she was giving Wendy the flowers and giving Anthony the "boot"!!!

The May meeting will begin with our AGM, so we wait with interest to see what happens!!!

The meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.

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